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GENERAL INTRODUCTION.                                                   61
largely assimilated to them. They have also suffered much from the attacks of the
Kachins. These would have finished what the Burmese began if it had not been for the
British annexation, and the North-Western Shans would have disappeared as completely
as the Ahoms in Assam. Shans are still found for a hundred miles or so north of Mung
Ktog (Mogaung), but their villages are few in number, and most of the Tai hare fled
before Burman oppression and Kachin invasion. Among them we must mention the
Khamtis, whose home in Upper Burma is still practically unexplored, and about whom
little is known. British influence has not yet been directly established. There are a
couple of small Khamti States along the upper course of the Chindwin near the Manipur
frontier, named Sha" ng-shup and Smgkaling, and there is a larger settlement close to the
north-east corner of Assam, beyond the Lakhirnpur frontier. The migration of the
Khamtls into Assam will be dealt with subsequently.1
We are now in a position to trace the entry of the Tai into Assam. The Linguistic
Surrey does not extend to Burma, and hence all that precedes is only introductory to the
remarks on the real subject of investigation. The earliest Tai immigrants into Assam
were the Aioms, of whom I take the following account (with a few verbal alterations)
from Mr. Gait's Report on the Census of Assam for 1891, pp. 280 and fir.:
The Ahoras are the descendants of those Shans who, tinder the leadership of Ghukapha, crossed the Patkoi
about 1228 A.D. (or just' about the time when Kublai Kaan -was establishing his power in China), and entered
the upper portion of the province, to which, they have given their name8 The Ahoms were not apparently a
very large tribe, and they consequently took some time -to consolidate their power in Upper Assam. They were
engaged for several hundred years in conflicts with, the Chutiyas and Kacharls, and it was not till 1540 A.D.
that they finally overthrew the latter, and established their rule as far as the Kallang. The power of the
Chutiyas had been broken, and their king slain, some forty years earlier. In 1562 A.D., the Koch Mug, Nar
Narayan, who was then at the zenith of hia power, invaded their territory, and in the following year he
inflicted a decisive defeat on them and sacked their capital Subsequently, the Koch kingdom was divided into
two parts, and as its power declined, that of the Ahoms increasedj and the Rajas of Jamtia, Dimarua, and
others, who had formerly been feudatories of Bifiwa Singh, acknowledged the suzerainty of the Ahoms. The
Musalmans on several occasions invaded then? country, but never succeeded in permanently annexing it. A
Pathan named Turbuk led an army as far as Kollabar in 1506, and defeated the Ahoma there, but was in
his tuin beaten and chased as far as the KaratSya. The nest invasion was led by Saiyad Babakar and
Satrajit in 1627, but was equally unsuccessful. Their army was cut up, and the Ahoma established their sway
as far as Gauhati. In 1663 A.D. Mir Jumla invaded the country with a large army, and after some fighting
took the capital. The Ahom Raja fled eastwards, and worried tho Miisalmana by a constant guerilla warfare
during the rains. This, together with the difficulty of obtaining supplies, the extreme unhealthinesa
of the climate, and the consequent heavy mortality among hia troops, who threatened to mutiny, made
1 For further mfoimation regarding the Tai m Upper Burma, the leader IB referred to taa admirable monograph on
the Shan States and the Tai irt Vol. i, Pt. i. pp 187 and fi. of the Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States
already referred to. Nearly the whole of what precedes is made up of quotations from it, and can claim no origiuality.
* Many different derivations of the name of the piovince have been suggested, and some of these ignore the undoubted
fact stated above, viz,, that the couutry derives its name from the Alioma, and not the Atoms from the country. The old
name for the country conquered by the Atoms was Saumarpifh. Prior to the advent of these Shans, the term As*ata or
Ahdm was unknown, and when it is first met with, it is found as the designation by which tbey were known to the people of
the West. Thus, in the manuscript Pwwknameh of Ba]a Lakh Narayan Kuar'of Hauli Mohanpnr, we find it stated
that Nar Narayan took an army to attack " Asam," that " Asarn " fled, eventually became tributary, etc. So also in the
P&dtaliahnameh it is stated tliat "Asam" borders on " Hfijo " (Kamrup and Goalpara) and refers to the people of the
country as Assamese. In Fathiya i 'Ibriyah it is statod that the inhabitants belong to two races, the Assamese and the
Kulita (Kalita). There can, I think, be no doubt that the word was fiiat applied to the Ahoms, and subsequently to the
country they conquered. Its use was afterwards extended by us and made to include tbe whole of the Brahmapntra Valley,
and when the Province, as now constituted, was formed in 1874, tbe word was given a atill more extended meaning, and now
stands for the whole of the Chief Commisaionership, including tbe Surma Valley and Hill Districts.
How the name came to he applied to the tribe is still unknown Tbe explanation usually offered, that they are called
1 A-sama' (the Sanskrit word meaning ' peerless') by the ilorans and BoraMs, whom they conquered, oa account of their
skill in ruling, is'based on the assumption tbat these tribes had abandoned their own Indo-Chinese dialects more tbau eight
hundred years ago, an assumption which is cleaily enoneou*. [According to some, the last syllable of Asam is simply' Sh$m'
or' Shan.1 In that case ' Ahom' would he an Assamese corruption of * isftm '.9. A. G.]